Tuesday assorted links

1. Review of a new and apparently impressive biography of Frank Ramsey.

2. Arnold Kling on public intellectuals.

3. Update on the World Bank paper controversy.  And here is the paper.

4. “…the power costs less to generate in India than the cheapest competing fossil fuel—coal—even with subsidies removed and the cost of construction and financing figured in, according to the Indian government and industry trackers.”  (WSJ)

5. Is Tesla better off without a traditional supply chain?

6. Oren Cass starts new group to challenge free market fundamentalism.


One can reasonably doubt that Tesla has its own foundries for chips.

Of course they don't, but those don't count for the concerns raised in the article, because foundries do not depend on specific contracts from specific car manufacturers to stay solvent.

The story isn't that Tesla purchases nothing from outside sources, it's that everything they purchase from outside sources is a commodity, where they can freely switch up suppliers without greatly inconveniencing either themselves or the suppliers. This gives them a lot of freedom to change things over the traditional car industry, where a lot of parts are supplied by companies that are basically only making that part, and everything needs to be tied in a large web of long-term contracts to secure supply of everything that is needed to build a car.

It's not entirely positive for Tesla, of course. There is a reason why these webs were built in the first place. If Tesla and the traditional car manufacturers were building an identical product that was also essentially identical to what they have been building for a decade, the traditional makers with their complex webs of suppliers would probably build it cheaper and with a higher quality, as a lot of their suppliers are hyperfocused on making some part as well and as cheaply as possible. The traditional car industry is basically set up to serve a mature product to a mature market, as efficiently as possible.

Tesla is a bet against the idea that the automobile market is mature. In more ways than just electric vs internal combustion -- the structure of the company is optimized for rapidly making significant changes to the product, and seeking to take over the market by being the most agile player on the field.

Interesting - does Tesla do its own lighting systems? Tires? Bumpers? Seats and their coverings?

What is true is that most car manufacturers have handed over a lot of their manufacturing to component suppliers. One could wonder just how far Tesla does its own manufacturing, compared to using outside suppliers - even if those suppliers are not traditional names.

Yes, Tesla makes its own seats. It would not make sense to make tires, it is a very different business not so much integrated with the rest of the car

Yes to everything except tires. (And the LEDs in the lights are also from an outside source, and those are of course also commodities.) There is basically nothing in a Tesla that is not a pre-existing standard part that is bought from outside.

Tesla, (and everything else Musk does) is vertically integrated to a level where it's almost a parody of pathological vertical integration.

Koenigsegg does the same. Maybe Tesla's innovation is less eliminating the supply chain, and more making that feature scalable.

Koenigsegg does the same. Maybe Tesla's innovation is less eliminating the supply chain, and more making that feature scalable.

Wicked, Tuna !

The biggest single item in the supply chain, batteries, is more or less in house for Tesla.
And the point about legacy supply chains is that they act as a sheet anchor to slow the efforts od legacy carmakers to respond:
Note the engineer’s comment.

Why would they? They are in the auto and auto parts business (battery) not the semiconductor business. It would be nice though but it is yet another line of manufacturing invented in the USA and now ceded to overseas companies.

Packing lithium into a box is quite automated. The real supply chain are all those diesel powered tractors digging up lithium.

Then their are the brushless magnets, there is no advantage to insourcing this expensive, but simple tech.

The carbon fiber parts? Garage mechanics can make those in the body shop with the new carbon fiber tech. Motor windings? More equivalent to weaving.

There is zero innovation, except batteries and lithium handling which more appropriately should be part of the fuel supply chain. Lithium and other battery tech is what this is all about. The rest is a very simple, single rotation device, the motor, well understood technology.

Teslas are the easiest thing to kit bash, which is why electric auto industry is booming. Musk has no supply chain. The average Joe can bolt one of these things together in his garage in about a week, replacing all the digital gadgetry with an iPhone. The entire industry rests on the ability to move piles of lithium everywhere.

Isn't that like saying an I-Phone is pretty simple? After all all the components of an Iphone are off the shelf now (batteries, screen, chips), even the software is available off the shelf for a smart phone. But somehow Apple is still making more money on their phones than almost any other business in the world makes (Aramco maybe beats them). The key missing factor is of course the know how to make this integrated package work for the average user. Tesla's advantage is that they have more years to understand this integration factor better than anyone else.

> Packing lithium into a box is quite automated. The real supply chain are all those diesel powered tractors digging up lithium.

No. Most of the value in a lithium-ion battery is cost of capital in manufacture. The value and importance of the raw materials is widely over-reported.

And to expand on the level of Tesla vertical integration in this; they bought the company that was making the robots everyone uses to make lithium batteries.

"Tuesday assorted paywalls"

I often wonder what income level I would have to be at in order to view all the pay walled news and commentary linked here. I barely find value in the ad driven media I consume.

The trick is working for a company that pays for the subscription for you. I'm convinced that's how paywalled sites stay afloat.

paywalls are also places where you can't copy and paste. Such that the text took place on your computer but not in your reality. Legally, it's not an issue except that freedom of speech on the internet is really a big issue.

4. “…the power costs less to generate in India than the cheapest competing fossil fuel—coal—even with subsidies removed and the cost of construction and financing figured in, according to the Indian government and industry trackers.” (WSJ)
Also he most expensive energy source to store which negates most of its advantages.

The fact that there are subsidies in the first place is strong evidence that the total cost of production is not actually lower than coal.

Certainly subsidies should be phased out in the US. They are scheduled to drop substantially at the end of this year.

"The EIA estimates the two largest federal tax credit programs benefiting wind and solar paid out a combined $2.8 billion in 2016. These funds came through a tax credit worth 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour of power produced, as well as a deduction equal to 30 percent of a facility’s installation costs.

These two tax credits are set to expire at the end of 2021, though a permanent 10 percent investment tax credit for solar and geothermal installations would remain."


federal insurance is a subsidy. Banks receive huge subsidies. Banks invest in solar energy. Does the consumer provide federal insurance? Probably not. Same with car insurance. These are loopholes in the way government entitlements create an income inequality gap.

Does the consumer provide federal insurance?
Insurance paid via the tax channel. In particular, the seigniorage tax is being passed directly to the consumer, and is permanently mandated by the Constitution. That tax just doubled a few months go.

#4 - Solar power sucks - besides what Matt Young says about "availability" (batteries at night), see also re #4 - Question: Can Solar Power Compete with Coal? In India, It’s Gaining Ground by Phred Dvorak

Answer: "no". Read the book "When Trucks Stop Running" by Dr. Alice Friedemann to understand why. Only when you include "externalities" in fossil fuels can solar power compete. Otherwise it's almost mathematically impossible. Another giveaway that the article begs for a "yes" but the answer is "no" is the byline "Phred" instead of "Fred" indicates the writer is a pie-in-the-sky leftist optimist.

Solar is barely getting started; similarly efficient battery storage.
But even now it can swallow a significant part of the market.

Solar power keeps declining in cost. At some point it will be cheaper than the fuel a natural gas plant uses. Then you'll use as much solar power as you can to avoid using the relatively expensive natural gas. The same effect will apply to wind turbines. Both types of renewables will be fuel saving mechanisms.

Granted, natural gas is far cheaper in the US than in most countries, so it might be some time away here.

“There is a sign of the sun” – Kafka

It is very frustrating trying to understand the economics of solar versus say fossil fuels because it is so locally specific. For instance a small amount of solar into an existing large grid can be quite cheap because the other suppliers can easily be flexed up and down. There is also the issue around transmission and land costs, which are highly locally variable. Of course externalities, like the cost of energy security and local and global emissions also need to included in the comparison. But they are also locally variable, India for instance doesn't (as far as I know) pay for the Iraq security, and given their poverty has a very different trade-off on emissions than say the US would. It is also true that solar power panel costs are falling due to manufacturing economies of scale (new technologies actually a minor part of this cost reduction). So a project today versus a project in three or five years would have a different supply cost. The combination of these factors makes top down decision making by policy makers very difficult as to what power source should be chosen, hence you get monstrosities like massive solar power in Germany rather than say in sunny Italy, which is clearly destroying value.

Given all this, the best approach is probably to look for market led solutions, similar to the way that the UK is tendering for new power through it's contract for difference approach. India could announce a series of auctions over the next twenty years where each year a certain amount of new power from any source is tendered (say 2 GWs of new power per year). The long term tendering process allows planning by the companies, especially important for things like land access and local permits (a big issue in India). The auction process can include a penalty on CO2 and local emissions, set by the tendering authority, which takes care of externality issues which are locally relevent. The specification for the power should include daily swing factors, which would take care of the storage factor. The suppliers will take a view on potential future technical improvements as part of their offer, we have seen some very optimistic views on technological process in some of these tenders.

This approach avoids all these arguments about subsidies and externalities and takes into account all possible local factors, including storage costs. The results of these tenders will then decide whether solar, or solar plus a mix of say LNG, or pure fossil fuel paying a Pigovian tax on emissions is the best answer for any one market.

Oh wow, got here within 15 minutes; this must be a high quality comment!

And only the later comment pile on obscures the quality.

#1 - thought this was an overdue bio of the great Boston Celtic, but alas it was not.

#1 - bio on Frank Ramsey (economist/mathematician) - I'm calling b.s.
I claim that the Laskers were greater (see below) specifically GM Emanuel Lasker. You be the judge. Also I note Wikipedia claims Ramsey died of liver failure not a bacterial disease as claimed in #1.

Frank Plumpton Ramsey (/ˈræmzi/; 22 February 1903 – 19 January 1930) was a British philosopher, mathematician, and economist who made major contributions to all three fields before his death at the age of 26. He was a close friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein and was instrumental in translating Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus into English

His work in mathematics and philosophy is only the tip of the iceberg. A query sent out to Twitter, asking for innovations named after Ramsey, produced an astonishing nineteen items

Ramsey did all this, and more, in an alarmingly short lifespan. He died at the age of 26 probably from leptospirosis (bacteria from the feces of animals) contracted by swimming in the river Cam. (but Wikipedia says: "Suffering from chronic liver problems, Ramsey developed jaundice after an abdominal operation and died on 19 January 1930 at Guy's Hospital in London at the age of 26.")

Edward Lasker (December 3, 1885 – March 25, 1981) was a German-American chess and Go player. He was awarded the title of International Master of chess by FIDE. Lasker was an engineer by profession, and an author of books on Go, chess and checkers. Born in Germany, he emigrated to the United States in 1914. He was distantly related to Chess World Champion Emanuel Lasker.

Emanuel Lasker (December 24, 1868 – January 11, 1941) was a German chess player, mathematician, and philosopher who was World Chess Champion for 27 years, from 1894 to 1921, the longest reign of any officially recognised World Chess Champion in history. In his prime, Lasker was one of the most dominant champions, and he is still generally regarded as one of the strongest players ever.
Lasker was also a mathematician. In his 1905 article on commutative algebra, Lasker introduced the theory of primary decomposition of ideals, which has influence in the theory of Noetherian rings.[130] Rings having the primary decomposition property are called "Laskerian rings" in his honor.[56][131] His attempt to create a general theory of all competitive activities were followed by more consistent efforts from von Neumann on game theory,[132] and his later writings about card games presented a significant issue in the mathematical analysis of card games.[79] ... Lasker was a good friend of Albert Einstein,

"4. “…the power costs less to generate in India than the cheapest competing fossil fuel—coal—even with subsidies removed and the cost of construction and financing figured in, according to the Indian government and industry trackers.”"

The decreasing costs of wind, solar and power storage mean that the world will transition to a majority of renewable power over the next 30 years. This will also "solve" the AGW issue.

The US will have this in the next 30 years.

I hope the US doesn't go full retard and start dismantling its existing nuclear and hydro power plants in the next 30 years. That would be idiotic. However, it might well be the case that by 2050, renewables with power backup are mature enough that nuclear power is retired as it reaches the end of it's useful life.

Unless there's a significant change to the cost structure, I don't expect any significant amount of new nuclear to be commissioned.

Based on currently deployed nuclear tech? Because there are a lot of other possibilities for nuclear power.

Sure, hence my caveat. But I'll believe it when I see it.

New solar and wind capacity firmed with natural gas, pumped hydro, and/or batteries costs less than new coal capacity. Or at least it is here in Australia. No generating companies want to build new coal power capacity.

To be competitive new nuclear would have to be cheaper than new coal and I can't see that happening. As the cost of solar and wind will continue to fall for a considerable time, it's a moving target. I wouldn't bet money on future nuclear power paying for itself. This includes nuclear fusion because the capital costs look high.

2. The "shelf-life" of intellectuals isn't any longer than that of by-gone heavy-weight boxing champions. Great examples are Herbert Spencer, Henry George and Oswald Spengler. The current crop of intellectual fans knows little of their ideas if they recognize the names at all.

6. Yes, free market fundamentalism is a cultural aberration, like Jeffrey Epstein's concept of prohibitions on sex with teen-age girls. Others extend this line of thinking to freedom of speech and association. Too much freedom is bad for someone.

Isn't it the prohibitions on sex with teenage girls which are a cultural aberration? There are many jurisdictions where sex with a 16-year old is considered perfectly legal, and in the past of course it was universally acceptable. But now a 16-year-old is considered to be practically an infant and anyone attracted to a beautiful 16 yo (i.e. everyone) a pedophile.

Epstein's concept was that the prohibitions were a cultural aberration.

Looking forward to the establishment of Mini-Mike Agricultural University, free tuition and an advanced degree in days.

2. “ Robin Hanson probably has come up with more ideas that deserve a long shelf life than anyone I can think of, but he needs better catch-phrases.”

Agreed, but are catch-phrases the key limiting factor? Seems more due to the lower status of the thinker

For example, “The Great Filter” is important, sounds cool, and has even been made into a gorgeous popular animation. But to date there’s been little credit given the creator. From his blogpost:
“ Twenty years ago today, I introduced the phrase “The Great Filter” in an essay on my personal website. Today Google says 300,000 web pages use this phrase, and 4.3% of those mention my name. This essay has 45 academic citations, and my related math paper has 17 cites.”


A Twilight Zone reboot episode on CBS All Access utilized The Great Filter as well.

5. Elon Musk is the Donald Trump of industry. Like Trump and his family cocoon, Musk has created a cocoon around Tesla. And like Trump, Musk cannot help himself, as the SEC has launched yet another investigation of Tesla as the result of Musk comments. Tesla has produced an incredible number of autos in a short time, attributable at least in part to Tesla's cocoon business structure according to the linked article. Or is it? What happens at Tesla stays in Tesla might be another way of describing the recent good news at Tesla, including the spike in Tesla's share price. Maybe Tesla is producing reliable, high quality autos. On the other hand, the actual product, the autos, hasn't been on the road very long. Maybe that doesn't matter: as anyone who has owned an electric vehicle, such as a golf cart, knows, they require very little maintenance. Except for replacement of the batteries every five or six years. And the cost of the replacement batteries is a shocker. I'm not so sure I would buy a Tesla, especially a used one, until there's a better idea of how long the batteries last and what it will cost to replace them. Would one buy a car with a gasoline powered internal combustion engine if one knew the engine had to be replaced every few years.

In before Thiago disappears again. I must commend Mike. Whatever he paid for the ads he is running, he is getting his money’s worth. They are wonderful.

6. The indictments in this piece are pretty strong. And it is an odd thing to appear coincident to a "this is fine" populist reelection effort.

Of course things are not fine. The conservatives who became populists have reduced themselves to waiting for the next tweet before they say what they believe. And then checking to see if the tweet after that hasn't caught them off guard again.

The only non-populist party still standing is the libertarian party.

The bandaids have been ripped off for better or worse, likely worse.

You're responding to anonymous. He's king of the: "When the Facts change, I change my standards".

If Sanders wins, suddenly Populism won't matter and he'll pull the lever for Bernie.

If Bloomberg wins, suddenly Sexism and Racism won't matter and he'll pull the lever for Mike.

I haven't changed, though perhaps you cannot follow.

I will vote for the least bad candidate in November, especially from the standpoint of constitutional democracy and rule of law.

Related reading:

Today, Trump echoed her comment when he said: "It was a prosecution by the same people — Comey, Fitzpatrick — the same group."

more here

As they say at item 6, there is more to life than markets. And there are very important rules that underpin them.

Our foundation is equal protection under the law. This administration not just rejects, but opposes that.


This administration is actually doing something about criminal justice reform.

You lefties TALK about it all the time. And take no action on CJR at all.

It's almost as if you, and your fellow elitists, in charge of democrat party don't really like African-Amercans. But will talk endlessly to get them to vote for your guys.

Why are you socialists always so racist?

Reminder: Blago was not only convicted of selling a U.S. Senate seat. The Illinois governor threatened to withhold state money for a children's hospital unless its CEO coughed up money for his campaign.

Not correct. Most criminal justice happens at the state level and several Democratic-controlled blue states have passed CJR bills.

Trump's interest in the issue should be applauded - although his focus on corrupt politicians and public figures should not - but Obama commuted around 1,900 federal sentences during his time.

Don't forget the war criminals.

According to my lights, stuff like that really matters.

I should say at least bad of the two principal candidates. I don't believe in throwing away votes on third parties.

You have TDS, You'll vote for whomever the Democratic party nominates. Ergo, your opinion on the matter as a voter is worthless.

Dude. Item 6 was all about the conservative response to Trump's populism.

You can't join an item 6 discussion and then take it back again.

This is the topic.

So make a stand against populism then. Vote libertarian!

Or is opposition to populism just a red herring ?

We’ll find out your stance in about 30 days!

No drama.

"I will vote for the least bad [major party] candidate in November, especially from the standpoint of constitutional democracy and rule of law."

This is a chance for a detente and an actual exchange of ideas. I respect it, truthfully.

Bloomberg is literally against the Fourth Amendment of the constitution.

He’s been recorded multiple times advocating the literal physical throwing of black and Hispanic children against a wall and arresting them for even suspected marijuana possession.

To me this is disqualifying on constitutional and moral grounds.

Are you prepared to vote for a president that actually literally violates the constitutional rights of minority children and imprisons said children for drug possession?

Please explain your support for this policy.

Thanks! Let’s have an actual discussion on policy

As I see it, if he gains the nomination he will have been forgiven for that, as opposed to endorsing it going forward.

It is certainly not like his most horrible past positions are his current platform.

But he doesn't have to make his case to me, he has to make it to the Democrats in the primaries.

Don't you think it's fair that the people maligned by his racist comments be the ones who decide now whether he is forgiven?

Translation: You'll vote for whomever the Democratic party nominates.

And apparently you will vote for Trump no matter who the Dems nominate. Does this somehow make you superior morally or intellectually to those Dems who will vote for any Dem nominee against Trump?

Got anything to say in response, JWatts? He's gonna vote for the Dems, and you're going to vote for the Clown.

Don't worry, Trump will easily beat Sanders. Even if he wasn't a wacko, when the economy is good the incumbent almost always wins


Those of us that wish for sanity...

Stuck between an idiot and a delusional socialist.

I can’t vote for him, but if he continues criminal justice reform I will at least not panic.

Commute every nonviolent offender, NOW.

Individual votes are entirely meaningless, doubly so if one doesn’t live in a swing state. Might as well vote your conscience.

Oppose populism?
Then vote Libertarian

Do you think there might be some special synergy between being a libertarian and believing votes don't count?

Yes. The ability to do math.

Are you paid to do that or what?

4. I'll believe in the viability of solar/wind without subsidies when, you know, it's actually deployed at large scale without subsidies.

Until then, I'll continue to believe that it's a particularly ridiculous lie.

#4 Well, I will believe the same about nuclear and oil when we don't need to occupy the Middle East to keep the oil flowing or when we don't need to be expecting the next Chernobyl.

The article is about India, as far as I know they don't pay for any of the costs of occupying the middle east? And the US probably doesn't either for energy security reasons, since they have ample supplies of energy locally (shale oil being only one of them). So the cost of occupying the middle east shouldn't be put on fossil fuel, it was a choice of the US to do this independent of energy supply.

On the risks and costs of nuclear, actually the safety record of nuclear is incredibly good. There have been a few incidents but the impact of these incidents on people's health is so small as to be barely measurable. And this is with old tech, new nuclear tech is much more safer. It's like we are arguing against flying using statistics from the 1950s airline operations in the USSR, ignoring today's much better safety rate from western airlines.

Omitting a power source from your list doesn't magically make it go away.

Unless and until you've got something actually cheaper, it's obvious what's going to fuel rising living standards in the two countries that combine for 23% percent of the world population between them. And that's the 23% of the world reserves of coal those two countries have between them.

"6. Oren Cass starts new group to challenge free market fundamentalism."

I could be into this, but it seems like a front for intellectualizing Trumpism. If that's what is, nope, don't want anything to do with it.

From the article, speaking of sources of solutions:

"nor by the populism itself, 'which has demonstrated no ability to formulate or implement a coherent response.'"

Incoherent is a good description. Let's pardon some fraudsters? How does that help?

From the article: "Freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has talked a great deal over the last year about the need for new policies that make it easier for people to stay in their hometowns if they want to, among other things."

Ugh. No. I have a bad feeling about this. This seems like a recipe for crushing innovation and economic growth. The Republican party seems to be turning into the party of welfare for non-brown people and corporations, but without using the word welfare. If Republicans are more openly getting into the anti-market thing, I hope they would read the Acemoglu link from a few posts down.

So far we’ve been saved by Trump’s general incompetence and lack of attention span.

Here’s to hoping it continues. May we be blessed with dozens of more “infrastructure weeks” that lead nowhere.

So far we’ve been saved by Trump’s general incompetence and lack of attention span.

The people who were perfectly satisfied with BO checking off canned options his staff came up with and adding inane marginalia pose as advocates of 'competence'.

We have not been saved. You just choose to ignore certain responsibilities of government.

More than 2,000 former DOJ officials call on Attorney General William Barr to resign

anon: Dude, I’m a libertarian. I am very, very much not in favor of imprisoning citizens for ten years for process crimes.

Impose enough of a fine to bankrupt the guy, slap a one year federal sentence on him and move on.

Art Deco: BO isn’t the president. And I’m very much in favor of Trump’s incompetence at pursuing populism. It’s arguably his best quality.

"Process crimes" has gained in popularity as an excuse, but not a sensible one. Particularly when the crimes in question are written by legislative statute. That is, they are the democratic mandate.

Back to me being a supporter of constitutional democracy and rule of law.

No, you insane totalitarian monster.

We should fine and throw six month to one year sentences at process crime criminals.

Refusing to tell the “truth”to the federal government should not result in literal 10 years in federal prison... This is what they warned us about...

Are you insane? Are you this much of an anti-constitutional totalitarian?

Good lord man. You’re supporting giving the federal government the right to sentence every non-pro federal government expansion citizen to a life sentence.

Grow up Boomer.

Try to hold it together.

Actually, to trust courts and our legal system is the most humble position I could possibly take.

And it is the only rational system of justice. Without a hierarchy of courts, anyone and everyone could spout anything and everything as their belief of guilt or innocence.

It is the all roads lead to Hatfield and McCoy feuds scenario.

But perhaps that's what you want, libertarians for anarchy?

"Particularly when the crimes in question are written by legislative statute. That is, they are the democratic mandate."

Begging the question.

What are you talking about? Trusting the courts and legal system? The foundations of western legal traditions are about NOT trusting the courts or legal system.

The government will harm you terribly with no consequence. That is what power does. So the legal tradition is that the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Plea bargains break this tradition badly; proof is no longer required, and injustice is rampant. And prosecutors are have immunity meaning that they never will be held accountable for abusing their power.

I am disgusted by the so called journalists who over the last three years have parroted the FBI leaks as gospel truth. I've been around long enough to remember journalists who would consider anything like that a bald face lie, a purposeful manipulation of media to advance their case, and they would call them out on it. Those same people you are parroting, and it is disgusting.

"Without a hierarchy of courts, anyone and everyone could spout anything and everything as their belief of guilt or innocence."

As you just did there.

6. Fake left, go right. Why have libertarians become the Republican foils? Because there are so few of them. Now, an alarmist might be concerned about the leftward drift of some conservatives, but it ain't so. Republicans are engaged in war against the enemy on two fronts: the Trump racist front and the friend of the left front. Each is a show. It's lowbrow Straussianism.

6. Oren Cass starts new group to challenge free market fundamentalism.

I'll listen selectively after a GOP Congress manages to dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Food and Nutrition Service. Well, there was that attempt to shut down the Export-Import Bank, sabotaged by Cocaine Mitch. #fredocons

Of course, 'market fundamentalism' is not a problem. The problem is a general absence of interest in divining ways for public bureaucracies to improve their performance when they're within the bounds of their proper remit. The Manhattan Institute has published some articles on reforms in police procedure under Rudolph Giuliani, but these sorts of pieces are notable for being so unusual.

#6..."Cass acknowledges the problems animating populism are very real, but he argues that they won’t be solved by the governing ideologies he blames for creating the crisis, nor by the populism itself, “which has demonstrated no ability to formulate or implement a coherent response.”

Try reading Henry Simons, Frank Knight, and Michael Oakeshott.


A real comment, among a wasteland of emoting. Although I wouldn’t say Knight or Simons’ philosophy has much influence outside of the Federal Reserve. For a world in which bank regulation followed Simons...

lol, and some people might think this isn't economics:

"NEW — The son of one of Trump’s pardon recipients gave $85k to Trump victory this August. His wife gave $50k that same month. On top of that, they made an in-kind contribution for $75k in air travel."


A proper accounting of solar/wind cost would include the cost of the backup facilities which are needed to handle the intermittent nature of solar and wind....to provide backup to a level that equals the reliability level of the grid before the entry of these intermittent sources. This means a lot more than an hour or two, or even a nighttime-worth, of battery storage.

Solar and wind will save fuel, but at the cost of considerable capex in addition to their own capital costs.

Do you also think a proper accounting of coal power would include the cost of health effects from air pollution, agricultural costs from ground level ozone, and environmental costs from greenhouse gas emissions? If not, why not?

In the context of whether solar/wind is the future in energy, no, to the extent that businesses do not bear those costs

That reply seems confused. I don't follow. If a business decides to put solar panels on their own roof are they imposing costs on society because they're now using less electricity during the day? Are they imposing benefits because the energy from their solar panels doesn't result in air pollution from generation and less than fossil fuels on a life cycle basis?

I think I'll wait to see if David Foster will make a reply.

"If a business decides to put solar panels on their own roof are they imposing costs on society because they're now using less electricity during the day?" Fuel costs are not the only cost involved in power generation, capital investment is a big part of the mix. If you have a bunch of customers who are generating their own power during the day (in the case of solar), but still expecting power to be available from the grid at night, then they are changing the shape of the load curve such that the capital costs of the grid must be allocated across a small kwh sold base. This goes triple if (when) the sun is not significantly available for power generation for several days (clouds and heavy rain, snow, etc), but these customer still want the grid to be there for them and supplying their normal demand.

Thanks for the reply. Isn't this exactly what markets are for? If a business or household can see an opportunity to make or save money shouldn't they be free to do so and if the grid finds they are selling less electricity at all but still have high capex costs they can charge more for electricity during peak periods. This applies whether electricity is supplied through some sort of market mechanism or not.

In Australia we have a fixed daily supply charge so what I pay in total for each kilowatt-hour of grid electricity I use automatically goes up the less grid electricity I use. I often pay over 30 US cents per kilowatt-hour for it.

"6. Oren Cass starts new group to challenge free market fundamentalism."

That won't be a difficult fight. Aside from the Mises Institute, what group supports actual free market fundamentalism?

"Shooting Star" by Sabbagh is a brief but insightful biography of Ramsey . The book presents his ideas in a very lucid manner

Thanks for that cite, I wasn't aware of that previous biography. Frank Ramsey was looking well on his way to being a genius somewhere between John von Neumann and John Nash, mathematicians (and a philosopher as well, in Ramsey's case) who as a sort of sideline made big fundamental contributions to economics.

I'll probably read both books about Ramsey, he gets my vote for most under-rated economist (not so much by economists but by non-economists, most of whom haven't heard of him unless I suppose they're a mathematician or philosopher).

I like this quote from the article: "‘the Ramsey Effect’: the phenomenon of discovering that an exciting and apparently original philosophical discovery already has been presented, and presented more elegantly, by Frank Ramsey."

“Footnotes to Ramsey”?

I'll listen to Cass when he says something. So far it's boilerplate.

#2: Although it's only a sidelight to Kling's main points, I'm puzzled by his claim that Krugman's had only one idea that has a long shelf life: the liquidity trap. Puzzling because I don't particularly attach that idea to Krugman (AFAIK Keynes was the guy who originally thought of it, although Krugman's been a highly visible proponent of applying the idea to current developed economies). And also because I can think of a number of other of Krugman's ideas that have had long shelf lives. One of Kling's commenters offered two good examples: his praise of globalization, and of course his Nobel-winning ideas combining international trade with industrial organization concepts.

I'd add his prediction in the 1980s that Japan (which in those days was looming in the world economy a lot like China has been in recent years) was not going to take over the world economically, because it had merely been enjoying Solow-esque catch-up growth: by modernizing its economy it increased its labor utilization, increased its capital-labor ratio, and eventually increased its human capital as well. Voila, superb growth to become Japan Inc. -- but that simply put Japan at about the level of other modern industrialized economies and that's where they've stagnated ever since.

China's surpassed Japan in total (but not per capita) GDP and still has a way to go on that growth path, but it's an easy (now) Krugman-esque prediction that they will eventually reach a ceiling and get slower growth. Most likely at per capita GDP levels that are below those of Europe, Japan, and the US thanks to their still-authoritarian anti-freedom policies.

the revolution of icharus, the reign of donner and blitzen, the devil and four horses.

On the bio of Ramsey there is one item not quite right. Certainly Ramsey influenced Wittgenstein, but numerous sources have long reported that the most important person in Wittgenstein's change of view was Piero Sraffa, also at Cambridge in the 20s.

Barkley, why does that matter?

Barkley, why does that matter .... are Ramsey and Wittgenstein your version of saints?

Barkley, why do you care so much, are Ramsey and Wittgenstein your version of saints ....

you would not delete my comments if I were "Gwern" .... Sad !

6. Oren Cass starts new group to challenge free market fundamentalism.

Oren Cass believes conservatives have blundered by outsourcing GOP economic policymaking to libertarian “fundamentalists” who see the free market as an end unto itself, rather than as a means for improving quality of life to strengthen families and communities.


No one outsourced anything, the math is stuck with the primitive libertarian model, over which the imperfection can be measured. It is the same in all sciences, at the heart we find deranged mathematicians build from fundamentals so proofs are valid. These nutty mathematicians are everywhere, fouling physics, botany, chemistry. We cannot escape these nutty math guys, I propose law against mathematical fundamentals.

I say we execute the mathematicians, right after the lawyers, for the crime of cultural appropriation of libertarianism.

Who is with me?

“American automaker is on top of the EV game, and why other legacy brands aren't.“

Just to be clear, we are talking about Tesla right? The never profitable, trivial volume manufacturer of notoriously low quality electric vehicles? The hyper growth company that is riding flat sales and declining revenues to total dominance of the vehicle industry?

They sold 367,000 electric cars last year. Only beat by BYD and maybe one other Chinese company.

2/ "Null hypothesis" was Kling's catch phrase?

#5: Feb 17th: the supply chain is dead.

Feb 18th long live the supply chain: Tesla said to be in talks to use CATL’s cobalt-free batteries in China-made cars https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3051163/tesla-said-be-talks-use-catls-cobalt-free-batteries-china-made-cars

Wow, some third rate Republican political operator thinks we've "been in a market fundamentalist mode" for the past 20, 30 years.
That's pretty ignorant, or more likely, just a dishonest "elevator pitch" for his next jobs. Most industries are highly regulated. A central planner is setting interest rate policy and is set on financial repression. Did he happen to notice Obamacare moved an already government-dominated healthcare industry more toward government control over the past 10 years?
Sounds like Cass is beating up on a strawman to make himself feel like a hero. What would be really innovative would be to systematically disentangle all of the non-market distortions to the world economy and connect them to the negative consequences on the economy.
But of course that would provide a true but politically unpopular output that doesn't reboot Oren Cass' flagging career in advising failed political candidates, offering them slightly "new and improved" advice to Republicans who want to be 5% better caretakers of the welfare state.

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